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Rude awakening: Angel City FC 1, OL Reign 3

Angel City FC suffer first-ever defeat

NWSL: OL Reign at Angel City FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After the pomp, circumstance, and celebrations of the inaugural match last week, it was time to really get to work. In match two of the NWSL Challenge Cup Angel City FC played host to one of the tougher opponents in the league, OL Reign. With last week behind them, the team looked ahead to establishing their presence as a team to worry about in 2022.

The Starting XI went unchanged going into the second match of the tournament, so we might be getting an early look at what will likely be the ‘regular XI’ heading into the regular season. The Reign may be going through a few changes — like essentially every single team in the league — but they are still a team that will no doubt be challenging for silverware. They also have the experience that Angel City simply do not have.

That experience was on display early, with USWNT star Rose Lavelle and the Reign working their way through the midfield, and putting on an excellent display of passing to find Veronica Latsko for the final product and the early goal.

Just as it seemed like the home side was settling into the day after getting punched in the mouth quickly, the Reign capitalized on a well-placed cross to double their lead just several minutes after taking the lead. Alana Cook got just enough on the finish to get it past Didi Haracic, giving her side the two goal lead before the 20 minute mark. It was a stark reminder that Angel City are still very much an expansion side, and going up against standard bearers like the OL Reign, will take some time before finding their footing.

Things went from bad to worse when inaugural goal scorer, Savannah McCaskill was shown a red card for a going studs up on a 50/50 ball. The Reign would take the two goal lead into the break, but it wouldn't take long for them to take advantage of being up a player. Mere minutes into the second half Rose Lavelle casually dissected the midfield, putting in a great ball to Latsko, who played it to Angelina for the final product to give the team a three goal lead.

Luckily for ACFC fans in attendance the team refused to quit, and constantly put pressure on the Reign. That pressure paid off in the 67th minute, with Simone Charley — who made her cause for a starting spot the entire time she was on the pitch — putting in a gorgeous pass that found Tyler Lussi, who put it in to the net and helped Angel City avoid the shutout.

That would be the last goal of the match, and when the final whistle blew Angel City had tasted defeat for the first time. In a lot of ways, this was good. The Reign aren't slouches, and even when treating this tournament like preseason warm-up, have the talent to do damage. This was a good test for the expansion side, as the Reign will undoubtedly be team that they will need to overcome should they reach the postseason. The early red card was a death blow for this match, but in fairness the visitors dominated throughout and finished with a deserved result.

The team will have a short turnaround before their next outing, with them traveling to take on Portland Thorns for a midweek matchup. We are out of the frying pan and into the NWSL fire now. Nobody said it would be easy in this league, and despite the talent on the roster its very evident there is still plenty to work on, and time needed to adjust. For everyone. The only remedy for a loss like this is a bounce back win over another team that will be a thorn in the side in regards to chasing the NWSL crown.

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